Friday, October 24, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup Oct 24: New PDE Website to Provide Opportunity for Public Input on Pennsylvania Standards

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3500 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, Superintendents, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, business leaders, education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for October 24, 2014:
New PDE Website to Provide Opportunity for Public Input on Pennsylvania Standards

ADVOCACY: Great seeing so many of you at PSBA/PASA School Leadership Conference this week in Hershey!  If you have not already done so, grab a couple colleagues and be sure to signup as a PSBA Advocate at the PSBA booth in the Aztec lobby next to the conference registration desk.

“I could never predict what I would get from one year to the next,” retired Brentwood superintendent Ron Dufalla said about subsidies handed out in multiple formulas over the past 20 years.  Dufalla, of Lincoln, graduated in 1972 as part of the first class to spend three years at a then-new Elizabeth Forward High School.  As a circuit rider for Pennsylvania schools, he's spreading the message of the Campaign for Fair Education Funding made public at a Sept. 30 teleconference at Allegheny Intermediate Unit.
Elizabeth Forward school board hears money issues
Trib Live By Patrick Cloonan Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014, 3:06 a.m.
Money was an issue on multiple levels for Elizabeth Forward school board Wednesday, from high-tech labs to low-tech supplies to state funding.  The board celebrated a $70,000 Chevron grant to further high-tech efforts at the middle school.  “This grant is a real shot in the arm for us,” Superintendent Bart Rocco said.  It's part of Chevron's $20 million Appalachia Partnership Initiative addressing education and workforce development in 27 Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia counties.
Acting Secretary of Education Announces Website to Provide Opportunity for Public Input on Pennsylvania Standards
PDE Press Release October 23, 2014
Harrisburg – Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq today announced a website designed to provide the public with the opportunity to review and provide feedback on the Pennsylvania Standards.  The site is available by visiting
“Governor Corbett and I are focused on ensuring that students, parents, educators and taxpayers have a comprehensive understanding of what is expected of our students at each grade level,” Dumaresq said.  “I encourage the public to take the opportunity to visit this website, share their thoughts and provide suggestions about the Pennsylvania Standards.”
The site is currently populated with the eligible content in English language arts and mathematics for grade three.  By mid-November, the site will be updated to include the eligible content in English language arts and mathematics for grades four to eight and Algebra I and Literature at the secondary level.  The website includes interactive features that allow visitors to provide feedback and suggestions as well as view sample questions from the state tests so they can see examples of what is being presented to and asked of students.

Welcome to the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Eligible Content review site!
This site is designed with three goals in mind:
·         Increase awareness and understanding of our state’s Eligible Content – the grade by grade statements that define what we want our students to know and do.
·         Solicit actionable feedback on the Eligible Content as part of the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s review process.
·         Provide PSSA/Keystone Exam sample questions for English Language Arts/Literature and Mathematics/Algebra for each tested grade/subject.*

Just like the city, Harrisburg's city schools are finding their way back: Gene G. Veno
PennLive Op-Ed  By Gene G. Veno on October 23, 2014 at 2:00 PM
Gene G. Veno is chief recovery officer of the Harrisburg City School District.
In his State of the City address, Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse said he wants the city's children to have the same opportunities as suburban students.  As chief recovery officer for Harrisburg City School District, I too want the district's students and community to feel as safe as those students and citizens who live in suburbia.  Our city needs to do better in curbing crime. And I know the Papenfuse administration is working as quickly as it can to address this serious matter and improve the city's image.  But we all know it will take time, and I applaud the administration for doing all it can, as quickly as possible.  Harrisburg schools too are improving by developing many educational programs in the elementary grades to help our children matriculate with sound learning skills.

Students whose ACT exams were lost in the mail will get retest
SUSAN SNYDER, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Friday, October 24, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Thursday, October 23, 2014, 5:58 PM
The 182 students whose ACT exams, taken at Upper Darby High School, were apparently lost in the mail will get a second chance to prove themselves.  ACT Inc. will allow the students a free retest Nov. 1, this time at Penn Wood High School in Lansdowne. All 182 students also will receive a refund for the tests that were lost, Ed Colby, a spokesman for the Iowa-based testing company, said Thursday.

A statement from FACTS on the role of charter schools in Philadelphia
Charters are a complement to, not a substitute for, the public system, say trustees of one of city's most successful charters.
the notebook commentary By Board of trustees and administrative leaders of FACTS charter school on Oct 23, 2014 04:59 PM
Following is an abridged version of a statement issued by the board of trustees and administrative leadership of the FACTS charter school.
Why we speak
As members of the Board of Trustees and the administrative leadership of the Folk Arts Cultural Treasures Charter School (FACTS), we wish to add our voice and our perspectives to this important discussion [about public education and the District's current funding crisis], speaking out of FACTS’ experience as a public charter school now in its 10th year of existence.
FACTS began in specific response to educational needs of Asian immigrant children who were not being adequately served in Philadelphia by the public schools. It was founded by community residents deeply committed to public education who had struggled for many years previously on a number of fronts to remedy the overall lack of public resources in Chinatown, and in Asian communities more broadly.

Central Bucks West football season the latest canceled because of hazing: Reports
Penn Live By Geoff Morrow | on October 23, 2014 6:10 p.m.
It's happened again.  A high school football season has been canceled by administrators after reports of another hazing scandal.  This time it's Central Bucks West High School in Doylestown.
First reported by Matt Coughlin of Calkins Media, with later reports coming from and, the Bucks' 2014 campaign is over after Central Bucks Regional Police investigated allegations of extreme hazing, including waterboarding-like behavior and touching of genitals through clothing.  These alleged incidents occurred during preseason and were first reported to administrators Oct. 14. After an internal investigation, Central Bucks superintendent David Weitzel announced the decision today to shut down the Bucks' season.

"The PARCC test takes nine to 11 hours, depending on a student’s grade level.
Her defiance was striking in a district that has long been viewed as a national leader in test-based accountability. It was also rich in symbolism because Chicago public schools were once run by Education Secretary Arne Duncan, a huge cheerleader for both the Common Core and the new exams, developed with $370 million in federal funds."
Common Core revolt goes local
Politico By STEPHANIE SIMON | 10/23/14 5:00 PM EDT
School districts from New Hampshire to Oregon are revolting against the coming Common Core tests.
Even as political leaders in both red and blue states continue to back away from the standards — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is the latest example — the hottest battles have shifted to the local level, where education officials are staging public revolts against state and federal mandates to administer Common Core exams.  Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett this week announced she did not want students in the nation’s third-largest district to take the federally funded PARCC exam, which will debut next spring in 11 states, including Illinois.
Byrd-Bennett called the test “unproven” and said adding such a long exam to a year already crammed with standardized tests would be overwhelming to students, teachers and principals.

"The move is the latest development in a growing backlash across the country against the frequency and high-stakes attached to testing, as well as the amount of teaching time lost to administering exams."
Miami-Dade students to get break from some tests
Students in Miami-Dade will take fewer tests this year after the district decided on Wednesday to cancel one set of interim assessments.  Along with other changes to the testing calendar, it means students will now spend up to 260 more minutes learning — rather than taking tests, according to district Superintendent Alberto Carvalho.  “It’s a win for teacher and it’s a win for students,” he said.  The move is the latest development in a growing backlash across the country against the frequency and high-stakes attached to testing, as well as the amount of teaching time lost to administering exams.  The change announced Wednesday means students will no longer take two sets of interim exams. The tests were developed to comply with state requirements to track student progress — but only one round of the scores were actually used for the data.
Carvalho recently challenged the state to look at its own schedules to get rid of duplicative tests. Then, he took his own advice.

Cashing In On Kids website October 23, 2014
The for-profit, publicly traded, virtual charter school operator, K12 Inc. (NYSE: LRN), is on probation for poor academic achievement and failure to meet state standards in Massachusetts in Massachusetts by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Not only is academic performance a major issue, but the state Education Board is also reviewing affiliated companies that assist in hiring and evaluating teachers as the experiment in virtual education continues to be questioned. The quality of K12'S vendors and partnering companies is also called into question since they also receive public money. K12, INC'S online school in Greenfield, a western Massachusetts town, draws students from over 170 districts and receives per-pupil funding from the home district. This means that the school is operating on a $5.8 million budget, yet has only 10.5 employees.

New video highlights public education successes from "Stand Up 4 Public Schools"
NSBA website October 23, 2014
Watch the new video "I Stand Up 4 Public Schools" featuring television personality and  "Stand Up 4 Public Schools" celebrity advocate Montel Williams.  The National School Boards Association’s national campaign, “Stand Up 4 Public Schools” highlights the achievements of America’s public schools and gives a voice to citizens who say “Who I am today began with public education.”

New website offers closer look into candidate' views on public education
The Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) has created a new website for its members and the general public to get a closer look into candidates' views on public education leading up to the 2014 election for the Pennsylvania General Assembly.  Following the primary elections, PSBA sent out a six-question questionnaire to all Pennsylvania House and Senate candidates competing for seats in the November election.  Candidates are listed by House, Senate seat and county. Districts can be found by visiting the 'Find My Legislator' link (
Features include:
·         Candidate images, if provided
·         Candidates are tagged by political party and seat for which they are running
·         Candidates who did not respond are indicated by "Responses not available."
Visit the site by going to or by clicking on the link tweeted out by @PSBAadvocate.
Candidates wishing to complete the questionnaire before election day may do so by contacting Sean Crampsie (717-506-2450, x-3321).

Children with Autism - Who’s Eligible? How to get ABA services?
Wednesday, November 19, 2014 1:00 – 4:00 P.M.
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
United Way Building 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, 19103
Join us on November 19th, 2014 to discuss eligibility services for children with Autism. This session will teach parents, teachers, social workers and attorneys how to obtain Applied Behavioral Analysis services for children on the autism spectrum. Presenters include Sonja Kerr (Law Center), Rachel Mann (Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania), Dr. Lisa Blaskey (The Children's Hospital of Pennsylvania), and David Gates (PA Health Law Project).

Register Now – 2014 PASCD Annual Conference – November 23 – 25, 2014
Please join us for the 2014 PASCD Annual Conference, “Leading an Innovative Culture for Learning – Powered by Blendedschools Network” to be held November 23-25 at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center in Hershey, PA.  Featuring Keynote Speakers: David Burgess -  - Author of "Teach Like a Pirate: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator", Dr. Bart Rocco, Bill Sterrett - ASCD author, "Short on Time: How do I Make Time to Lead and Learn as a Principal?" and Ron Cowell. 
This annual conference features small group sessions (focused on curriculum, instructional, assessment, blended learning and middle level education) is a great opportunity to stay connected to the latest approaches for cultural change in your school or district.  Join us for PASCD 2014!  Online registration is available by visiting

Upcoming PA Basic Education Funding Commission Meetings*
PA Basic Education Funding Commission  website
Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 10 AM, Lancaster
Tuesday, November 18 & 19, 2014, Philadelphia
Thursday, December 4, 2014 at 10 AM, East Stroudsburg
Wednesday, December 10, 2014, 10 AM - 12:00 PM, Lancaster
* meeting times and locations subject to change

January 23rd–25th, 2015 at The Science Leadership Academy, Philadelphia
EduCon is both a conversation and a conference.
It is an innovation conference where we can come together, both in person and virtually, to discuss the future of schools. Every session will be an opportunity to discuss and debate ideas — from the very practical to the big dreams.

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